Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

There is endless arguing about what our hominid ancestors ate. Percentage of meat vs. plants. How much fat. Etc. Really, our ancestors scavenged for whatever was available, which differed immensely from era to era and region to region.

This quotation is from Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who, with her parents and brother, lived among the Bushmen when their society was like it had been for perhaps tens of thousands of years. Not hardly our stereotype of “cavemen” but they may be very close to our ancestors.

The Ju/wasi ate about eighty kinds of plants, including twenty-five kinds of roots, seven or eight kinds of berries, five kinds of nuts, sixteen or seventeen kinds of fruits, three or four kinds of melons, four kinds of leaves of which two resembled spinach, eleven kinds of tree gum, and two kinds of beans from pods. They also ate palm hearts. The Old Way: A Story of the First People

The Bushmen also ate eland (antelope) and other game. Not picky eaters. Scavengers.

Draft Timeline
Based mostly on The Timeline of Dietary Shifts in the Human Line of Evolution by Ward Nicholson.
3.7 million years ago – Australopithecus afarensis (e.g. “Lucy”), first known hominid. Ate mostly plants and fruit, with some meat and insects.
2-3 million years ago – Glaciation. Breakup of African forests into a mosaic of riparian forests and grasslands (savannas).
2.3 to 1.5 million years ago – Homo habilis, first “true humans.” May have hunted or just scavenged meat left by better predators such as lions, and anything else they could find to eat. Percentage of meat in diet would have been fairly small either way.
1 million to 750,000 years ago – First controlled use of fire (usually from lightning) for cooking.
230,000 to 170,000 years ago – Homo erectus Better tools. More hunting, more meat.
<200,000 years ago. Humans and Neanderthals diverge from a common ancestor.
<200,000 to about 28,000 years ago – Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Neanderthal subspecies) in Europe. Adapted to very cold weather. Fit our stereotype of “cavemen.” Hunted large animals. Didn’t eat a lot of veggies.
<200,000 years ago – First Homo sapiens sapiens (us). Two populations (East Africa and Southern Africa), separating about this time and remaining separate until around 40,000 years ago.
115,000 years ago. Ice age. Our Homo sapiens sapiens ancestors may have hunkered down by seashores, where the temperature is never extreme. Perhaps at the southwestern tip of Africa. If so, they ate what can be found by the sea, such as shellfish, shore birds, tubers, bulbs, corms and, IMHO, seaweed.
69,000 to 77,000 years ago. Toba monster volcanic eruption in Indonesia creates a year-long “volcanic winter” lasting from 10 years to 1000 years. It probably kills all Homo sapiens except for the small populations in Africa (perhaps only a few hundred).
60,000 to 40,000 years ago – Migration out of Africa to the whole world. Migration routes commonly along seashores. More seafood. The general opinion is that all of our direct ancestors came from Africa starting around 60,000 years ago.
>40,000 years ago. Some of our ancestors mated with Neanderthals.
Even if your ancestors went to Europe or other cold regions, like mine did, and went inland from the coast, that’s only at most 40,000 years of adaptation to a stereotypical “caveman” lifestyle.
10,000 years ago. The beginning of agriculture in a few places.

So, over 2 million years of scavenging, not “Me caveman. Me eat raw meat.” “Homo scavenger.” (I tried to find a Latin word for scavenger. No luck.)

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